Elon Musk’s Starlink vs. Amazon Kuiper, connections to navigate space


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With the proliferation of the private space industry, in which Big Tech companies also participate, technological innovation has made connecting to the Internet via satellite increasingly accessible and affordable, and thus affordable even for us small shipowners. We had already told you about Starlink, Elon Musk’s satellite connection service, which is rumored to be preparing for a stock market listing, but Amazon’s service, Project Kuiper, and possibly Apple’s, are also coming soon.

How Starlink works

Tesla and SpaceX patron Elon Musk’s satellite superconnection service, which has been available in Italy for more than a year, offers different subscription plans, including. one specifically for vessels, quite expensive but offering global connectivity even in the ocean, and one dedicated to those moving within a continent (Roaming) with the limitation, arbitrary non-technological, than 12 miles from the coast.

This service uses a constellation of miniaturized satellites (Starlink) that orbit the earth and communicate with terrestrial transceivers, providing a broadband, low-latency global Internet connection (latency is the response time between computer and server; low latency is needed, for example, to make video calls). The whole thing allows us to connect to the Internet even in remote places or at sea, as if we were connected to a normal home line, at an affordable cost: 299 euros for the antenna, 100 euros per month for the service.

Starlink ready to go public?

Although Elon Musk has publicly denied (on Twitter, see below) a Starlink listing anytime soon, the service is expanding and the South African entrepreneur has just announced that the company has broken even on cash flow. A first step, as founder and CEO of venture capital firm Fortuna Investments Justus Parmar told Reuters, toward Starlink’s spinoff from SpaceX and subsequent IPO as soon as some stability or revenue predictability is achieved.

Testing begins for Amazon Kuiper

While Musk is moving ahead expeditiously, his rival in the space race Jeff Bezos, through his company Amazon, is warming his engines. Amazon has just announced that it has successfully made its first satellite Internet connection through Project Kuiper, a communications constellation that, when fully operational, will consist of more than 3,200 satellites and will compete with SpaceX’s Starlink and other space-based Internet services.

At the moment there are only 2 Project Kuiper satellites in orbit, but as early as mid-2024 mass production of the satellites will start, and by the end of the year the service will be available in beta testing for selected users in partnership with Vodafone and Verizon.

Apple also in the running?

Although there are no rumors about it, Apple has already invested more than $700 million for satellite connection with Globalstar ($450 in 2022 and $250 in 2023). In fact, iPhone 14 and the new iPhone 15 are equipped with a satellite communication antenna that allows messages to be sent to a help and rescue center in an emergency. Quite a substantial investment but on a more traditional technology that does not allow connection speeds and low latency at the levels of Starlink and Project Kuiper.

In emergency situations, Apple's SOS satellite emergency safety service enables communication with emergency services if cellular network or Wi-Fi coverage is not available
In emergency situations, Apple’s SOS satellite emergency safety service enables communication with emergency services if cellular network or Wi-Fi coverage is not available

James Barbaro



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